Too late to repot?

Mark D.

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I am a newbie to bonsai and was wondering if it's too late in the year to repot a Juniper Chenensis 'Sea Green' and cut back the roots. It is currently in a 1gal nursery pot and I have just recently styled it removing a fair bit of foliage and extraneous branches.
 

Dav4

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Junipers, generally speaking, are capable of being re-potted much later in the spring/summer then other trees. Having said that, it would really help to know where you live so that others in your local can advise you more accurately.
 

Mark D.

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Sorry about that, I thought I had already entered that in the profile, it's fixed now. I live in Las Vegas, NV. USDA zone 9a
 

milehigh_7

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Mark I think your biggest challenge this year is to get the trees you have through the summer. Cutting back now would not be the best IMHO. Let's see what the others think but for you developing a summer strategy is going to be essential.
 

jk_lewis

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Yesiree! Wait. The time to repot in Las Vegas is probably February or March.
 

Mark D.

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Thank you to all for the advice. :) I guess I'll work on styling and keeping them alive...
 

KABUDACHI

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also depends on the tree. Junipers, Azaleas, Pyracantha yes but im with everyone else No not right now in Vegas.

James
 

milehigh_7

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Here is Smoke's schedule from another thread. He is in Sacramento so that is pretty close to our climate.


Yes I work roots as needed whenever they are repotted. Repotting will start right after the holiday...so around the 26th. [of December] I have to be done with the maples, elms, and hornbeams by Jan. 31. Right after that they start to open leaves. I have at least another month for junipers and pines, at least till the end of Feb.

For summer, there are a few hard rules here in Vegas:

#1 NO direct afternoon sun. One day of 120 with afternoon sun and you will lose them all. Mine are under the shade cloth that you can pick up from Home Depot and during Summer won't get any direct sun after about 10AM.

#2 Whatever you have them in must drain freely when you water. If any water pools in your pot you will boil your roots.

#3 Water several times a day depending on the heat/humidity.

#4 Watch out for radiated/reflected heat from sidewalks or walls. This is another killer.

#5 Shelter from the extreme winds or at least keep them from being blown over.

This will get you started right.
 

Mark D.

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Clyde,
Thank you, that's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for, I think I'll keep them under the pomegranate trees, there should be plenty of ambient and reflected light, while keeping them shaded from direct sun, and it is also in a corner of the yard where the walls never receive direct sunlight and the trees and walls act as a natural wind break. I'm fortunate enough that I am able to work from home so I will be able to check on them frequently. What do you recommend for soil locally? I've read a lot of great things about turface and/or cactus mix... What do you use? Would swapping the soil without any other change also need to follow the same care calendar as repotting with a root trim?
 

MattB

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Mark,

For a free draining soil you will definately want something like Turface. What you are looking for is something that you can pour an amount of water into and get nearly the same amt of water back out. Being as hot as it is in Vegas, you will be able to water as often as needed without fear of rotting your roots out...which is good for you since you work at home.

Alot of people have a hard time finding Turface specifically. I personally use an oil absorbant by a company called Moltan. It is just fired diatomite, which is a natural compound found in certain lakes apparently. You can buy this at Auto Zone for practically nothing.

As far as repotting in a new soil at this time of year, I would assume you will still have the risk of damaging the plant. That being said, I just did the same thing on a few plants to get them out of the terrible nursery soil and they seem to be fine. The biggest problem with this is that the nursery soil they are in is not the easiest thing to remove without damaging some of the roots, especially since they are mostly potbound at the point of purchase. Even when I spent 2-3 hours trying to be as careful as I could, I still ended up splitting some roots or hosing them in half. If you cannot get all of the potting soil mix out of the roots, that portion of the soil will stay damper than the surrounding Turface mix. That will either restrict the roots from venturing into the dryer more rigid soil or will cause the roots to get overwatered in the potting soil portion.

I've read somewhere that Junipers, as well as a few other evergreens are ok with mid summer repots because they are mainly dormant at that time of the year. However, I would wait for a more accurate response from someone more experienced before you jump on that though. If you do end up repotting, make sure to really pamper your tree with shade and water. Don't fertilize until healthy or you risk burning your weakened roots.

Your fellow newbie,
Matt
 

rockm

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"If you do end up repotting, make sure to really pamper your tree with shade and water. Don't fertilize until healthy or you risk burning your weakened roots."

This isn't really accurate. Pampering your tree with shade and lots of water after repotting can kill it. The roots are not functioning at their optimum potential - if at all. Providing too much water will rot the cut root ends pretty quickly. Soil should remain slightly moist throughout--all the way through the root mass. Careful watering after repotting is a must. Understanding how the soil drains is a must.

Also, it's a myth you shouldn't fertilize after repotting. You can, but since the roots aren't working very well, the tree won't be using much, if any, fertlizer.

Also some direct sun for a couple of hours a day (morning) is also beneficial. It can warm up the root mass, which stimulates faser recovery. I wouldn't leave a repotted tree out in the open in the sun and wind, but a little exposure can help things along.
 

Vance Wood

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Most Junipers of the Chinensis variety tolerate repoting any time of the year where they are not frozen. However; with your extreme heat and low humidity in sumer it might be better to wait if you cannot provide a semi-shaded environment where you can mist the foliage on a daily basis without getting the soil wet.
 

MattB

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"This isn't really accurate. Pampering your tree with shade and lots of water after repotting can kill it. The roots are not functioning at their optimum potential - if at all. Providing too much water will rot the cut root ends pretty quickly. Soil should remain slightly moist throughout--all the way through the root mass. Careful watering after repotting is a must. Understanding how the soil drains is a must."

Sorry bout that, definately didn't mean to soak and overwater the tree... but you will definately need to water thoroughly as I mentioned just before that, since you will be using Turface! Miss a day or two and I'd assume the tree will feel the effects of a 110º day pretty quickly.

Also, Rockm thanks for pointing out that fertilizing wont hurt a weak tree... it seems to be thrown around alot, and I had taken it for granted that it was true. I guess I should delete my link to Bonsai Primer as a reference and look elsewhere haha

Actually, the best thing I could find for advice on fertilizing a weak tree is from Harry (which is probably pretty good advice)

It is often recommended that newly repotted trees should not be fed for at least six weeks to avoid burning new roots. However, there is now much anecdotal advice and some scientific evidence that promotes the advantages of feeding straight after rootpruning and repotting. Immediately after root pruning, a plant will require additional nutrients to grow and repair roots, particularly phosphorous and potassium. A low nitrogen feed would be very beneficial to the plant and unlikely to burn the roots.
 
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Mark D.

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This is all most excellent advice... I bought the tree on sale for $1.88 so if I kill it in the repotting process I certainly wouldn't be heartbroken or bankrupt... I found a local supplier (first one I called actually) that has Turface MVP 50lb bag for $12.75... I have some 7-7-7 fertilizer left over from doing the grass, but I'll pick something up with low nitrogen to use immediately after repotting and use the 7-7-7 from week 6 on...
 
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I live here in florida and we have the same issues with sun and heat, but I do have humidity. I have junipers growing in bonsai soil, but to tell you the truth, they really do better in more of a soil mixture. What I do, is I get a bag of soil that is more for trees and shrubs at one of the stores, it usually has a good amount of pine bark in it. Then I either grab a bag of lava rock, or pea gravel. Lay down a row of the stone in the pot then start filling in a mixture of the two, with a little more soil than rock. Also, you might grab some spagnum moss and put arround the base of the trunk on top of the soil, to help keep the tree moist, especially if repotted. I would water at least every other day,funny thing about junipers is that they will take alot more watering than most plants, but dry out very fast. Keep out of the full sun for a while, will grow fine in partial shade and mist them as much as possible. Their foilage likes a lot of moisture, which sound funny, growing in the desert, but they do...
 
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sorry, when I wrote my last post I wasn't paying attention... I didn't read your last thread about only paying $1.88 for it. I don't mean to sound like some crazy plant molester (ha,ha) But seriously do what ever you want with the tree... try new things and learn! Worst case that will happen is you will end becoming friends with the people at the plant store and they might cut you a deal when you go to buy a more expensive plant. I would suggest for a $1.88 that you go back and buy some more, have fun!!!
 
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